The Dream Doctor HTML version

3. The Sybarite
We found the Novella Beauty Parlour on the top floor of an office- building just off Fifth
Avenue on a side street not far from Forty-second Street. A special elevator, elaborately
fitted up, wafted us up with express speed. As the door opened we saw a vista of dull-
green lattices, little gateways hung with roses, windows of diamond-paned glass get in
white wood, rooms with little white enamelled manicure-tables and chairs, amber lights
glowing with soft incandescence in deep bowers of fireproof tissue flowers. There was a
delightful warmth about the place, and the seductive scents and delicate odours
betokened the haunt of the twentieth- century Sybarite.
Both O'Connor and Leslie, strangely out of place in the enervating luxury of the now
deserted beauty-parlour, were still waiting for Kennedy with a grim determination.
"A most peculiar thing," whispered O'Connor, dashing forward the moment the elevator
door opened. "We can't seem to find a single cause for her death. The people up here say
it was a suicide, but I never accept the theory of suicide unless there are undoubted
proofs. So far there have been none in this case. There was no reason for it."
Seated in one of the large easy-chairs of the reception-room, in a corner with two of
O'Connor's men standing watchfully near, was a man who was the embodiment of all that
was nervous. He was alternately wringing his hands and rumpling his hair. Beside him
was a middle-sized, middle-aged lady in a most amazing state of preservation, who
evidently presided over the cosmetic mysteries beyond the male ken. She was so
perfectly groomed that she looked as though her clothes were a mould into which she had
literally been poured.
"Professor and Madame Millefleur--otherwise Miller,"--whispered O'Connor, noting
Kennedy's questioning gaze and taking his arm to hurry him down a long, softly carpeted
corridor, flanked on either side by little doors. "They run the shop. They say one of the
girls just opened the door and found her dead."
Near the end, one of the doors stood open, and before it Dr. Leslie, who had preceded us,
paused. He motioned to us to look in. It was a little dressing-room, containing a single
white-enamelled bed, a dresser, and a mirror. But it was not the scant though elegant
furniture that caused us to start back.
There under the dull half-light of the corridor lay a woman, most superbly formed. She
was dark, and the thick masses of her hair, ready for the hairdresser, fell in a tangle over
her beautifully chiselled features and full, rounded shoulders and neck. A scarlet
bathrobe, loosened at the throat, actually accentuated rather than covered the voluptuous
lines of her figure, down to the slender ankle which had been the beginning of her fortune
as a danseuse.